Lansing hip-hop artists taking the scene by storm


Last year, when I wrote about the state of Lansing hip-hop, I said I felt that a collection of the greatest voices ever to represent the genre was born in Lansing. While that remains true, I also love that the city continues to play host to a number of quality artists from all over the world. Likewise, it’s inspiring to see the idea of community continuing to buoy the scene, with a host of different organizations, initiatives and public spaces giving the younger generation a chance to sharpen their skills.

My prior piece extensively detailed how my career began to take off alongside James Gardin as we went from open-mic performances at Respiration, a monthly hip-hop showcase, to headlining our own shows and performing across the nation. With the re-emergence of Mac’s Bar, but also other venues such as The Junction and The Avenue, plus a host of open mics and events like Karaoke Kickback, I feel confident that some of the newest talents in the city will similarly serve as a launchpad for the next leaders in Lansing hip-hop. The connection to Michigan State University is ever-present as well, painting a picture that the culture is in good hands moving forward.

With all that in mind, I wanted to spotlight some of the younger artists I feel are poised to make an impact on the city. Lansing hip-hop continues to evolve at an impressive pace, and there are far too many young artists thriving to make this a definitive list, but I think these are some potential torchbearers for the next era of rap in the area.



Formerly known as Young O, Jurell is a quadruple-threat artist who I think serves as a great prototype for a generation of artists that are rewarded for experimenting outside the conventional box of rap. He is lyrically gifted but also produces the majority of his own music, plus he has a great singing voice and live stage show — the hip-hop equivalent of baseball’s five-tool batter. His most recent releases are “The One That I Want” and “The 3AM ep” with MikeyyAustin, and both projects really drive home the versatility in his music.

The Player

Anthony “The Player” Jones is one of the most gifted lyricists under the age of 21 that I’ve been blessed to see perform on stage. It’s inspiring to see just how good some of the kids are in Lansing, going far back into their teenage years — The Player has been a top-tier talent in the city before he could legally vote. What impresses me most is that his lyricism isn’t rooted in any particular area. He’s just as skilled when the topic is more lighthearted or boastful. I joke a lot about real songwriting touching a multitude of concepts, whereas a lot of “raps about rapping well” are put on a pedestal despite their shallowness. The Player gives you a lot of different approaches to a track, but they all pack a punch. His stage show is rapidly evolving to the point that each new gig feels like the first time.

5AM and Juice

As far as producers go, I’m proud of these two former attendees of All of the Above Hip-Hop Academy. They’re multi-talented producers who also engineer and DJ, making them invaluable parts of the performance ecosystem in Lansing. They both serve as glue that enhances the work of other artists they collaborate with. Their respective sounds can vary, sometimes fitting dark and brooding tracks or upbeat anthems, as evidenced by the work on “Breath of the City,” a piece commissioned by the city of Lansing.



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